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Challenging, thought provoking issues for the need of this hour.


In this Issue

WHAT WOULD YOU DO!

THE EVENTS AT AZUSA STREET


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What would you do if you were told you had a couple of years left to live?

What would you do if you were told you had a couple of years left to live?

What would you drop from your life and what would you refocus on?

These are questions I asked unemployed youths, retrenched adults or people who had reached an impasse in their lives. The echo of those questions has returned to me. It is no longer hypothetical for me.

As I confront the cancer and negotiate the medical acrobatics, I am fast discovering that one’s hope can never be in science, no matter how treatments have advanced in recent years. Being well intentioned but finite body mechanics their counsel is often contradictory and always hedged to protect their backs from giving anyone false hope. My hope is in the Lord, my maker and Saviour, and I am seeking prayerfully and practically to push the boundaries on my prognosis.

Nevertheless, the question remains: What would YOU do if you knew you only had two years left to live? Or if you knew you had two years before economic disaster hit? (Warnings of the present financial morass have been sounding for many years. Who has heeded them?)

Often our lives get so cluttered with urgencies, administrative ‘necessities’ and trivia that we lose sight of what we are really called to do. To help answer the question, here are some matters to consider:

  1. How are your financial, legal and business affairs? Would an administrator or an executive have difficulty sorting things out?

  2. Have you honoured your covenant of companionship to your spouse? How are your relationships with family and friends? Are there unresolved conflicts that need to be rectified? Do you need to seek forgiveness? How do you want to be remembered? “Dad was always too busy”; “She was a good kid, but …”

  3. Will others have regrets? Did they look for something from you such as trust, security, love, companionship, communication, or performance of promises and not get it?

  4. What fears do you need to address? Sometimes we can avoid dealing with fears by drowning them out with activity and busyness. Even the way we pray can mask a fear of death. We are all dying; it is just the appointment time that varies. Are you afraid of failure? Of what people will think of you? Of pain? Of financial ruin? Of losing your home or family?

  5. What are the most important issues of life? How do you need to re-order your priorities? None of us is indispensable. Life will go on after we shuffle off this mortal coil. Many of the things we think are important will not be carried on by others. They will lapse. Work out now what is lasting and focus on that.

  6. Do you have a workable succession plan? Joseph had a vision that outlived him. He was convinced God would restore his father’s posterity in their own land and so he “gave commandment concerning his bones”

  7. How is your relationship with God? Perhaps this should be number one? Do you snatch moments here and there? Is your relationship actually a con job in that you seek Him for what He can do for you? Or do you desire obedience so He can be glorified through you in any situation?

  8. Are you sure you will have the physical and mental ability to perform your primary objective if you postpone the really important issues while you clear the present clutter, or wait for the favourable year,? What if you suddenly get sick, or your financial reserves haemorrhage drastically? Too many people end up with regrets. “If only I had done it when I could.” “I knew I should have …”
It dawned on me as I started weighing up these considerations that we are supposed to live in the light of these questions all the time! We must continually evaluate and re-evaluate our lives and priorities in the light of eternity. This is what Jesus meant when He told us to take up our cross daily and follow him.

I am not prepared to concede to cancer. It is not the way I would have chosen to exit this world. If my life was to end tomorrow I am not sure I could say with Paul, “I have finished the course”. I would feel my life had been cut short. I am also aware though, that many of the things that have consumed my energies are not as important as I imagined. Some have been my good ideas and not necessarily what God purposed for me. As God strips those away from me, I trust I will have the energy and the time to complete all God purposed for me (Psalm 57:2).

Whether you are 30 or 80 plan as if you have 100 years: live as if today could be your last.

Year follows year. Some things change, most things stay the same. We get lulled into a sense of predictability. And then suddenly …… along came 2008!

Who would have imagined 2008 would have ended in international turmoil, economically and politically. Riots, bloodshed, economic meltdowns, and predictions of doom and gloom.

James wrote in his epistle that no one should boast about tomorrow. When we make plans we have an expected outcome in mind. Then God reminds us who is in control.

May the joy of the Incarnation and the sovereignty of Jesus Christ our King give you peace and may He bless your work in 2009 as you increasingly implement His reign in all your affairs.

" The fact that the church has been able to survive the dead weight of a large proportion of its membership unconverted is a proof of its essential soundness and vitality" - E. Stanley Jones

Doug and Bronwyn are dear friends.
I encourage you to pray for them. Shaun Kearney
BLOG: http://dougduncan.info

 


THE EVENTS AT AZUSA STREET

In 1979 I received a copy of this interview when I lived in Long Beach Ca.
In addition I visited Azusa St and the site of the Shakarian home.

In 1956 Thomas Nickel set about interviewing the last living members of the Azusa Street mission to preserve for posterity eyewitness accounts of that marvellous outpouring. This is an extract taken from that account. “About 150 years ago a mighty outpouring of the Holy Spirit fell in Russia, and about 25 years later it fell in Armenia.

In 1905 eight families migrated to Los Angeles California as a result of a prophecy written by an uneducated Russian lad, who was under the power of the Holy Ghost for seven days and seven nights, warning that the Turks would massacre all Christians unless they fled to America where God would prosper them.

The Armenians established a Pentecostal church at 919 Boston Street, in the large home of Demos Shakarian, father of Isaac, and Grandfather of Demos who was latter to become President of the Full Gospel Business Men’s Fellowship International. In 1979 the building was still standing.

Early in 1906, Sister Hutchinson, a member of a coloured Baptist church, began teaching Holiness and Sanctification as separate works of Grace, in addition to a born again experience. Other members began to believe this same doctrine. Consequently the pastor expelled eight families from the church.

Sister Hutchinson and her followers, including Ruth and Richard Asberry opened a mission on Santa Fe Street, where they could worship God according to the dictates of their own consciences. This was nothing but the same motive that prompted the Pilgrims to migrate to what was later to become the United States of America. Sister Hutchinson felt the congregation should have a man as assistant pastor. Ruth Asberry’s cousin Neely had just returned from a visit to Houston, Texas. There she had met a coloured minister, Joseph W. Seymour, and because he was such a meek man she believed he would make a good co shepherd for the little flock.

Joseph Seymour was contacted and came to the mission. His first sermon was on the Baptism of the Holy Ghost, a subject he had heard preached in a tent meeting in Houston. The tiny congregation accepted both the man and his message, but Sister Hutchinson immediately put a padlock on the door of the mission.

THE AZUSA STREET OUTPOURING

The little band of coloured truth seekers had been expelled from one building and locked out of another; so Ruth and Richard Asberry invited Brother Seymour and others to hold prayer meetings in their home at 216 Bonnie Brae Street near where Angelus Temple now stands. Some nights later, on April 9, 1906, Brother Seymour and seven others were seated in the living room, in a spirit of prayer and waiting upon the Lord. Suddenly, as by a bolt of lightning from Heaven, they were all knocked from their chairs to the floor, and many began speaking with other tongues. Among these were Jennie Moore, who latter married Joseph Seymour, Brother Hughes, Sister Traynor, and her son Bud, and Daughter, Sis.

Little Willella Asberry rushed from the kitchen to see what was happening in the living room. Young Bud Traynor was on the front porch, prophesying and preaching. Jennie Moore stood up and prophesied in what others declared was Hebrew. Then she went to the Piano and for the first time in her life began playing beautiful music and singing in a beautiful language with a beautiful voice. She never lost these gifts, and the piano is still in the cottage at 216 Bonnie Brae Street where Willella Asberry was living at the time of writing.

The news spread like wildfire. White people joined the coloured people, overflowing the house. The front porch became the pulpit and the street the pews. An old deserted building was located at 312 Azusa Street, a dead end street only about a half block long, in the industrial section of down town Los Angeles. It had once been a Methodist Church, and then a horse stable. The windows and doors were out and debris littered the place.

J.V. McNeil a devout Catholic, who owned one of the largest construction companies on the Pacific Coast, took two of his men and personally paid them to help get the building in shape for services. Some debris was removed, sawdust was put on the floor, nail kegs were obtained and boards were placed across these for benches. Two wooden shoeboxes were used for a pulpit. Mc Neil also donated lumber to provide an altar for coloured worshippers and their white visitors. The services then moved to Azusa Street where John Seymour received his baptism.

About this time Demos Shakarian and his brother in law, another Armenian man, were strolling down San Pedro Street. As they neared Azusa Street they heard familiar sounds; shouting, singing and praying in the same manner they were accustomed to in their own services.

On reaching the mission they discovered several were speaking in tongues. They returned to their people with the thrilling news that God was beginning to move in America as He had in Armenia and Russia, and in the upper room in the early church.

The great earthquake struck San Francisco on April 18. The quake and the disastrous fires that followed took several thousand lives. On the April 19 a lesser shock struck Los Angeles. Many began to seek closer relationships with God.

Tent meetings, missions, and churches were so emptied that some closed and joined the movement. The upstairs was the tarrying room, but many received their baptism just sitting in the lower services. Joseph Seymour had become a sort of moderator, and he was a marvellous teacher of the deep things of God, though usually he sat with his head bowed inside the shoebox pulpit, while God carried on the meeting. Only the anointed would preach; as many as nine services were held in one day. The meetings continued day and night around the clock.

People would come and kneel and pray and quietly wait for God to move. “Singing in the Spirit” like unto some perfect heavenly choir, struck awe in all new comers. Prophecies, messages and interpretations were given with convicting power as though the Lord Himself was speaking directly. Conversions, the baptism of the Holy Ghost, miraculous healings, and casting out demons became regular procedures. The power could be felt five blocks away.

Labouring men, working nearby would spend their lunch hour at the mission. One of these, C.M. McGowan a Methodist, got so interested one day that it was five o’clock before he gave time a single thought. Later his wife received her baptism and became mightily used to take the Pentecostal message to other church groups.

Carlos P. Huntington the wealthy railroad magnate, and his charming wife, came in an elegant buggy drawn by a well-groomed horse, to see this moving of God. Others came from all over the nation and from many parts of the world. God was using a stable in Los Angeles to open the flood gates of salvation and deliverance, just as He used a stable in Bethlehem 1900 years before as the birthplace of Jesus Christ who made possible the salvation and deliverance. Man would have chosen a great palace and a great cathedral for these mighty events; God preferred to choose stables.

The mother of A.C.Valdez SR, and the mother of Arthur G. Osterberg, (who later became district superintendent of the AOG) went from Azusa Street to Riverside to hold a Sunday afternoon meeting among the Spanish people. Many English-speaking people attended. Among those was the owner of a large orchard, whose brother Norman Chandler was owner and Editor of the Los Angeles Times. He received a marvellous baptism of the Holy Ghost. After this many Spanish people from far and near went to Azusa Street. A Spanish man and his wife and two small daughters came from San Bernardino. The man was so club-footed he needed crutches to walk. After they arrived God began to move mightily, and the congregation fell to their knees. The man and his family crossed themselves, being devout Catholics and knelt. Suddenly the man began to shake violently. When he stood up his clubfoot had been completely straightened. He and his family marched back and forth for a long period in deep appreciation. Such miracles usually produced great weeping, numerous conversions, with many receiving the baptism of the Holy Ghost. Often sinners seeing such great miracles would get healed themselves; then they would become converted.

The crowds became so great the people overflowed into Azusa Street. The newspapers published critical reports, and the ministerial association asked the police department to stop the unseemly manifestations. The police questioned residents on Azusa Street if they objected to the incessant noise and commotion. No one objected, so the police withdrew. All this spread the news farther and drew still larger crowds.

Owen “Irish” Lee, a Catholic man from Ireland had been saved, had received his baptism, and had become a lay preacher. A Catholic lady learning of this took a rope to Azusa Street and undertook to hang him. At the same time a Catholic man, a stranger to the woman, spit in Lee’s face and struck him a hard blow to the cheek. Lee had been a bartender in Ireland and New York and was a born fighter. Once he had put four Los Angeles policemen in their places when they were mistreating a drunken man. He knocked out the Santa Monica chief of police who once tried to arrest him. He surprised himself and the man and woman by turning the other cheek. The man further infuriated tried to hit him again but was stopped by some invisible force. Lee went home and prayed for the man and woman. They both later returned to Azusa Street and were saved.

A coloured brother, Henry Prentiss, went from Azusa Street to hold open-air meetings in Whittier. Since no offerings were taken at the mission and in the open-air services, the police said he had no visible means of support so they arrested him as a vagrant.

A group of Catholics, Protestants, and some out and out sinners, who were working on a Union Oil Company pipeline near Whittier, agreed among themselves they would pay Henry’s fine; and if he should be jailed, they would tear the door off the jail and set him free.

When Henry appeared before the judge he demanded a trial by jury, and said he would act as his own attorney, although he had only one year of schooling. He said he would personally select the members of the jury. To each prospective juror Henry read the entire Tenth chapter of Matthew, telling how Jesus Christ sent His twelve disciples forth and told them not to take gold, or silver, or brass in their purses.

He placed especial emphasis on the verses 14-15; “And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet. Verily I say unto you, it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah the day of judgment, than for that city.”

The judge was enraged and did everything he could to stop this procedure. He lifted a chair and threatened to strike Henry with it. But Henry would patiently reply at each interruption: “The Lawd bless ye, Jedge!”

When the twelve jurors had been selected, after the Tenth chapter of Matthew had been read twelve times, Henry said: “Jedge, ye may proceed.” The prosecuting attorney said he would not face Henry in trial for all the money in the United States, so the case was dismissed. Soon afterwards the judge and the prosecuting attorney attended Azusa Street and were saved.

The outpouring continued at a rapid pace throughout 1906 and 1907. Many Pentecostal churches and missions began to spring up, and missionaries went to many parts of the world. Sister Hutchinson, who had locked out this great movement, forcing it to Bonnie Brae and Azusa Streets, came and received her baptism, and went to Africa as a missionary.

Pastor Owen Adams, from Monrovia, California, attended Azusa Street. Then he went to Canada where he met Robert Semple. He told Robert Semple about this new experience and Robert told his new bride, Aimee. He and Aimee went to China as missionaries where Robert later died. The young widow returned to the United States, afterward marrying Harold McPherson. Later she became the world famed Pentecostal torchbearer, Aimee Semple McPherson. In one of her great meetings in San Jose, California, at which time almost an entire Baptist church accepted the Pentecostal experience, a Congregational pastor, Dr Charles. S. Price received his baptism. He too became a world famed Pentecostal torchbearer.
Many great Pentecostal organizations have arisen since Azusa Street days. They are earnestly endeavouring to please and serve God. Azusa Street set some patterns we would all do well to follow. God spread the movement not offerings; the Holy Ghost did the work; not an organization;

Jesus was exalted, not an evangelist. Jurisdiction came from the bottom, not from the top. There was no striving for pre-eminence; laymen and ministers were of equal importance; and lastly, but the greatest of these was, love and unity prevailed among one of the most diverse groups that ever assembled to worship God in spirit and in truth.

The Azusa Street Mission is gone. But the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit Who made Azusa Street what it was over 100 years ago are still longing, and most certainly will bring greater experiences in our times, and in our lives if we earnestly desire Him.

As we look back in hindsight to what happened in the immediate years following this wonderful out pouring, we see that it wasn’t long before this upper room experience changed from a fellowship of saints, into many Pentecostal denominations emphasizing their particular bias as they built up their walls. These groups believed they were the custodians of this outpouring expecting the evangelicals to come to them to receive the Baptism of the Spirit.
But it never happened and so God moved again.

WHAT HAS HAPPENED SINCE AZUSA STREET

Find out in the March issue of “Dovetales”

 

 

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